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Consultation planned for ambulance priorities

29 September 2008

Consultation planned for ambulance priorities

The question of the priority the public believes should be given to appropriate ambulance crew levels, against other measures which may improve services, will be publicly consulted on, Health Minister David Cunliffe and ACC Minister Maryan Street said today.

The ministers the announcement today when releasing the government's formal response to the Health Select Committee Inquiry into the Provision of Ambulance Services in New Zealand.

"Politicians try to do the best job they can of finding ways to direct government services to best meet the needs of the community and I acknowledge the work of Health Committee Chair Sue Kedgley and others in doing this through the Select Committee Report," David Cunliffe said.

The government released the draft New Zealand Ambulance Service Strategy last week, which addresses a wide variety of sector issues, and also addresses all of the recommendations of the Health Committee.

“The draft strategy provides a framework which will allow us to make better investment decisions in ambulance services - such as identifying the most important priorities, allowing paramedics to treat patients at home, addressing crewing levels, shortening response times, enhancing clinical monitoring - where appropriate - and to fund those priorities in a sensible sequence.”

ACC Minister Maryan Street said as part of the consultation on the strategy, the public will be asked about how important they believe double crewing is for all ambulance services - given that as many less populated parts of the country have relatively few call-outs, additional funding in other areas may give greater local benefit.

"We want to know what’s important to communities throughout New Zealand and I'd encourage as many people as possible to provide comment to ensure we hear their views," Maryan Street said.

In addition to preparing a draft strategy which has three goals focusing on strategic leadership, community resilience and seamless delivery of services, the Ministry of Health and ACC have come together to create a united National Ambulance Sector Office (NASO). This office is now up and running.

NASO has established a stand-alone website: www.naso.govt.nz which holds the draft strategy and consultation documents for any member of the public who wants to have a say about the future shape of ambulance services.

The consultation period closes on 12 December 2008. After a thorough analysis of the feedback, the final strategy will be based on a very clear picture on what the priorities are for New Zealanders.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

The issue of ambulance crewing is covered in the draft ambulance strategy document under Initiative 5: “Improve the level and extent of clinical expertise and the sustainability of the paid and volunteer workforce”

The objective of Initiative 5 is to have a framework for ensuring the correct clinical skills mix and workforce capability to deliver a consistent standard of integrated care nationwide.

Action 1. Includes the bullet point “to review international models to determine best practice for crewing and skill levels.”
This relates directly to crewing numbers and the skill mix of the workforce.

ENDS

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